An adult woman with her face obscured by a book about the basics of PsA

Learning the Language of Psoriatic Arthritis

Last updated: January 2023

When I was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), I felt like I had been plunged into a foreign country where I did not know the language. There were many new words and concepts to learn: flares, spondylitis, enthesitis, and nail pitting. It was overwhelming, to say the least.

I soon realized that learning the language of PsA was essential to get the most out of my treatment and improving my quality of life.

Understanding the language can make all the difference

In some ways, managing PsA after a diagnosis is not all that different from learning to live with my 2-year-old German Shepherd rescue, who also speaks a different language than I do. Like my dog, PsA has secrets that make a mess of things when I don't realize that I've triggered a flare or hurtful memory.

It is up to me to learn how to make a life out of the damaged remains. Learning the language of PsA hasn't healed me or stopped all flares, but it has helped me understand my disease and improved my life. Here are three things I've learned about living with psoriatic arthritis.

Be patient

Just like it takes time for a rescue dog to trust its new owner, it takes time for someone with PsA to trust their doctors and develop an effective treatment plan. There will be good days and bad days, flares and remissions. It is important to be patient with yourself and your disease.

Advocate for yourself

When you're sick, it's easy to let other people take control and make decisions for you. But it's important to advocate for yourself and be your best advocate. Research your options, ask questions, and get second opinions if you need them.

Take things one day at a time

Some days will be better than others. That's just the nature of having a chronic illness. Don't try to do too much on your good days, or you'll pay for it later on with worse or more bad days. And on your bad days, don't beat yourself up for being unable to do more. Just take things one day at a time and do your best each day.

A way to better understand your psoriatic arthritis

Learning the language of PsA hasn't healed me or stopped all flares, but it has helped me understand my disease and improved my pain and quality of life. Part of that learning included acceptance of not living as I used to. I had to find better ways to do things, methods that prevented or reduced the amount of pain I would experience after.

Learning the language my new dog responds to, which happens to be German, has prevented him from destroying my home and hurting himself. His language was discovered when I noticed his fearful reaction to the word NO. Fear filled his eyes whenever I said it, and he’d run from me.

Realizing a different term was needed, I tried NEIN! Immediately, he responded by correcting the bad behavior. I may have only had my dog for a short time, but like my life with PsA, I know that putting in long hours to understand them better will only improve my life.

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